WEB DESK: For quite some time, George W. Bush had been itching to invade Iraq – more for its oil than anything else – and the one most willing to join him was Tony Blair.
To the utter delight of Israel and great disappointment of world leaders and frustration of the United Nations, the two had been conspiring to invade Iraq for what they claimed ‘regime change’ in Iraq. Blair committed Britain’s full cooperation assuring Bush “I will be with you, whatever”.
How “illegal” and “badly wrong” was this enterprise it gets laid bare in a voluminous report released this week by Sir John Chilcot-headed inquiry commission. According to the report, the excuse being proffered for removal of Saddam Hussein was that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons and was on way to produce nuclear weapons, while none of it was there on the ground.
The war was based on flawed, cooked-up intelligence and assessments, but was not being challenged by the elected representatives in their countries. Recall, how unabashedly the then US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, made fool of the world public opinion by presenting what he called Saddam’s ‘mobile nuclear lab’. Nelson Mandela accused the two leaders of “undermining the UN order” and the then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan warned the invasion of Iraq would be “illegal” as Blair’s own foreign secretary Robin Cook resigned saying Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).
It was a mischievous game plan. The invasion was launched before “peaceful options had been exhausted,” says the report. Rightly then this act of invading Iraq and removal of Saddam Hussein is recognised as a major contributing factor to destabilisation of region, rise of insurgent groups to fill the vacuum of power, including the Islamic State. No doubt Saddam’s was a repressive regime, intolerant of political opposition, but Iraq under him was peaceful and prosperous. The killings of 200 people in Baghdad on the eve of this past Eid and similar incidents of terrorism tell the entire world that post-invasion consequences were underestimated and the post-Saddam action was grossly inadequate. No wonder then many Iraqis are nostalgic for the Saddam era. To quote the BBC, the people of Iraq “have not had a proper day of peace since the old regime fell”.
Should Tony Blair stand trial for war crimes? There are many who are for this, if nothing else for ‘it should help us to be bolder in standing against aggressive agendas spun by media’. In the war he led into his nation some 200 British soldiers perished and many more were injured.
However, the Chilcot inquiry report doesn’t demand his trial in so many words, although of his own he has accepted “full responsibility” for the consequences of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and said the decision to take action was “the hardest, most momentous and most agonising”. Tony Blair’s prosecution therefore appears to be unlikely. But, possibly, he can be impeached by the British parliament – though parliament’s impeachment process, by the House of Lords, has not been activated since the 19th century.
There is also the question: should he be tried alone or along with the intelligence people who manufactured the WMD canard. The International Court of Justice, another possible court of justice, has already ruled out Tony Blair’s prosecution, for it is ‘out of its jurisdiction’. However it would be within its right to try the British soldiers if guilty of torture and abuse of Iraqis during detention. That said the possibility cannot be ruled out that Tony Blair may face action from the families of soldiers who died in the conflict.
And what an irony that the United Nations Security Council which was short-changed by its own two members. The Chilcot report may help it evolve a whole new definition of what constitutes aggression and think of ways and means to preempt such hidden agendas as Bush-Blair duo nurtured to steal the Iraqi oil in the name of democratising Iraq.
Source: Business Recorder